One of the most popular sub-genres of inspirational romance today is Amish romance. I haven't read any of the books, but I did watch a movie a while back based on one of Beverly Lewis's Amish novels. I've always been rather fascinated by these people who live in a world right out of the last century.
Last year I learned there's a settlement of Amish not too far from here in Ethridge, Tennessee. And a couple Saturdays ago, a friend and I decided to take a road trip there.
Because the Amish do not like to have their photographs taken (they think it will take away their soul), I respected their beliefs and only have a couple photos taken before we entered their neck of the woods.
I'm not going to bore you by reciting a laundry list of things I learned about this settlement. You can read all about it here. I will tell you one thing that website doesn't cover -- Rumspringa. Rumspringa "generally refers to a period of adolescence for some members of the Amish, a subsect of the Anabaptist Christian movement, that begins around the age of sixteen and ends when a youth chooses baptism within the Amish church or instead leaves the community. The vast majority choose baptism and remain in the church." This group of Amish doesn't participate in Rumspringa. Our guide said you're either Amish or English (the term used by the Amish to refer to non-Amish folks). Period. He also said if someone leaves the sect, an empty coffin is buried and the person is considered dead by his family and the community. I think that would make someone think very, very seriously about leaving.
We stopped several times along the way at different farms. The owners have hand-lettered signs by the road indicating what they sell. Many sell the vegetables they grow and they also have jellies, pickles, breads, furniture and baskets. One even had a Jersey cow listed for sale.
We're talking about going back in the fall when the farmers make sorghum. It'll be cooler then and maybe the leaves will be turning and we can see the countryside wearing different colors. But the Amish will still be in black and gray and dark blue -- the plain people.
The goodies I bought -- muscadine jelly, bread and butter pickles and a basket.